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Liza Colón-Zayas on Season 3, Ayo Edebiri’s Directing Note, Acting with Husband

  • SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for “Napkins,” the sixth episode of “The Bear” Season 3. *

Between “Honeydew” and “Forks,” Season 2 of “The Bear” shined when it delved into the lives of supporting characters, enriching the narrative with stories of Marcus and Richie. Season 3 maintains this trend by focusing on a core member of the kitchen staff: Tina.

Liza Colón-Zayas, who plays Tina, initially portrays her as a stern character, loyal to Mikey (Jon Bernthal), Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White) late brother. However, by Season 3, Tina has embraced fine dining, thanks to the trust and support from Carmy and Sydney (Ayo Edebiri). This journey culminates in the episode "Napkins," directed by Edebiri and written by Catherine Schetina.

The episode opens with Tina and her husband (played by David Zayas, Colón-Zayas’ real-life husband) discussing their raised rent and financial woes. Tina then loses the job she’s dedicated 15 years to, leading to a disheartening job search. After being repeatedly turned away, she finds herself at The Beef, where Richie offers her a free coffee and sandwich.

This small act of kindness moves Tina to tears, prompting Mikey to comfort her. They share their struggles, and Mikey offers Tina a job as a line cook, marking the start of her journey at the restaurant.

Colón-Zayas expressed her excitement about leading her own episode and working with Edebiri as a director. She received the script while filming Season 3 and was overwhelmed by its depth and quality. She felt a unique connection to the backstory, portraying Tina as part of a loving, yet struggling, blue-collar family.

In discussing Tina’s transition from Season 1 to Season 3, Colón-Zayas explains Tina’s initial fear of being replaced in a modernizing kitchen. By now, Tina has earned her place, trusting the bonds she’s formed and striving to succeed alongside her colleagues. Despite the ongoing challenges, she remains optimistic and committed.

When asked about Tina’s thoughts on working in a restaurant that her family couldn’t afford, Colón-Zayas admits the focus is primarily on making the venture successful. The progress from a failing restaurant in Season 1 to a second chance at success is a testament to Tina’s determination and hard work.

Working with Jon Bernthal, who plays Mikey, was a memorable experience for Colón-Zayas. She found him kind and generous, bringing authenticity to their scenes together. This experience deepened her understanding of Tina, portraying her as more than a hardened character but as someone struggling with strength and passion.

Edebiri’s directorial debut was marked by confidence and preparedness, traits she consistently demonstrated since joining the show. Her direction was gentle and intuitive, allowing the actors the freedom to bring their characters to life. One notable instance was Edebiri insisting on keeping Tina’s fridge messy to reflect her busy life realistically.

Colón-Zayas’ real-life husband, David Zayas, being cast as her on-screen spouse, added a layer of authenticity to their characters’ relationship. Colón-Zayas appreciated how his character was written as a good, loving man, something not often depicted in stories about their community.

Acting opposite her husband was a joyous experience, and their long history of working together made the scenes natural and grounded. The response to this season, especially Tina’s episode, has been overwhelmingly positive. Viewers appreciate the quieter, more introspective moments, still deeply engaged with the show and its characters.

This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Source: Variety